Chch school rolls take a rollercoaster ride
Some Christchurch schools face mass redundancies while others cram pupils into makeshift classrooms as rolls swell.
Banks Avenue School faces staff redundancies and is buying only items that can be easily moved should the school have to relocate from its patchwork grounds.
At the other end of the spectrum, Prebbleton School's roll has increased so much that two fulltime teachers are working in other classrooms, and coat rooms are being used as offices.
Banks Avenue School in Shirley has lost about 200 pupils since the February 2011 earthquake.
Principal Murray Edlin may have to make some staff redundant at the end of the academic year. Last year he could not renew any fixed-term contracts.
"About 20 per cent of our catchment area is red-zoned," he said.
"Our roll has gone from about 630 to 640 prior to the February 22 earthquake down to between 430 and 440. This has quite an impact in terms of staffing and the funding that we might have received."
The school was buying only items that could be easily moved if it had to relocate.
"We have a significant area that is really just gravel. When it rains, while most of the water now drains away, the place gets really muddy," he said.
"The hall is out of action and that has been a bit of a challenge, but we manage."
While Banks Avenue School battles shrinking numbers, Prebbleton and Lyttelton West schools have grown so much that pupils are being taught in makeshift classrooms.
Prebbleton acting principal Mike Molloy said the school had just been allocated funding from the Ministry of Education to build four new classrooms.
It had asked to build eight after some classes grew to more than 30 pupils.
The school began 2010 with a roll of 312 and last year with 340 pupils. After the February 22 quake, that number rose to 375.
The school now has 386 pupils, and Molloy predicts the year will end with about 400 children enrolled at the Prebbleton primary.
"We have two fulltime teachers working within classes who don't have room for their own class. They are assisting with reading and writing and providing specialist support," Molloy said.
"We hope to start building new classrooms next year. Right now, we are pretty near chocka."
While the ongoing earthquakes were a factor in the school's expansion, Molloy said, the growth in Prebbleton subdivisions also played a part.
Lyttelton West's roll has doubled despite the area being devastated on February 22 last year.
The roll shot up from 68 to 136 last year. This school year, 128 pupils were enrolled.
Principal Diana Feary, who took up the role in January, said a new classroom was to be built last year but the quakes had put plans on hold.
"We are limited in terms of space. The new entrants class shares the library space," Feary said.
"This has an impact on other children, but we have amazingly flexible staff and we just get on with it."
Some primary schools have maintained a steady roll through the turbulence of the past year.
Cotswold School in Bishopdale is only 12 children up from May last year, but there has been a notable rise in interest from families outside the school's geographic catchment.
Principal Stephen Harrison said there had been a steady change of faces after some families left after the earthquake.
"Since then, we have families that have moved to Australia, some to Nelson and Auckland, but we have found families have moved into those vacated properties."
The school would accommodate pupils from different catchment areas if it had space available.
Harrison said interest for ballot places had risen, the school was "holding off" drawing a ballot until later this year.
The secondary sector has emerged from the quakes relatively unscathed.
Last year, Christchurch pupils excelled in National Certificate of Educational Achievement examinations, not only scoring higher than in 2010, but achieving better results than the national average.
This came despite thousands of pupils site-sharing at schools across the city. Most schools have returned to their original sites and rolls appear to have levelled.
While schools in the hardest-hit zones have lost pupils, others have come to fill their places.
Shirley Boys' High School principal John Laurenson said the secondary sector was far less constrained geographically compared to primary schools.
Pupils were able to use public transport or drive themselves to school, allowing them to travel from much further afield.
"If your reputation is good and practice is good, then parents will do what they can to get their children into their school of choice," he said.
"We draw boys from as far north as Waikuku Beach and as far south as Sumner and Redcliffs, and a smattering from the west of the city."
Shirley Boys' High was forced to relocate for seven months after the February 2011 quake. The school is back at its North Parade site, and Laurenson said the roll had remained steady.
He said there would be no problems attracting new pupils.
On a recent open night more than 2000 people visited the school.
"That is as many as we have ever had – maybe more than we have ever had."
He said the school was down 60 pupils from the pre-quake roll of about 1360.
"We are relatively unaffected as far as the roll is concerned," Laurenson said.
Riccarton High School has maintained a solid roll since February 2011.
Principal Phil Holstein said the school was sitting on its optimum roll of about 950 pupils.
He had noticed an increase in the number of pupils from outside the usual catchment area.
"We have had people move into our area from the eastern side. There has been a trickle of families leave, too," he said.
"Interestingly, we have seen families move to the area from outside of Christchurch and from overseas in terms of employment opportunities with the rebuild."
St Bede's College in Papanui is full.
Rector Justin Boyle said the school would be turning away several applications for boarding and day places.
While the St Bede's roll had remained steady for the past five years, the quakes had sparked an increased interest in enrolments, Boyle said.
The school was awaiting the arrival of temporary classrooms, expected at the beginning of next term, to accommodate the larger roll.
"We are certainly encouraged by the number of applications from outside the Christchurch area," Boyle said.
"Most pupils from outside Christchurch primarily come from the West Coast, Mid-Canterbury and North Canterbury, but we do see some from Southland and Otago."
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
Christchurch schools have 10,000 more places than pupils and some will face significant rationalisation in coming years.
The Draft Education Renewal Plan, released by the Ministry of Education last month, showed 29 schools require new buildings because of growing rolls, while 31 face rationalisation as pupil numbers fall.
"We need to consider the viability of individual schools and whether some should be closed or amalgamated," it said. "Migration within the region is also expected to result in a requirement for new schools in the west of Christchurch." The ministry said many schools had space for additional pupils before the 2011 earthquakes.
"That, coupled with changed enrolment patterns since the earthquakes, accounts for the projected 10,000 additional spaces noted in the draft renewal programme."
On February 22 last year, 74,265 pupils were enrolled in Christchurch schools.
As pupils returned to education in the following weeks, thousands found themselves at schools outside the shaken city.
Just under 15 per cent of pupils, 11,077, transferred to another school, ministry figures show.
More than 75 per cent, 8458, of those pupils transferred to a school outside Christchurch.
Of the 11,077 who transferred to another school, about half returned to their original school within five months.
At November 2011, more than 5000 remained enrolled at their transfer school.
About 3500 remain enrolled in schools outside greater Christchurch.
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